One thing and another
Kirsti, your story about the bomb threat is pretty hair-raising, when you think about it. I do agree with you about Swiss trains. They're reliable, fast, comfortable and provide good connections - not just between trains but with buses and boats as well, so it's really easy to get here there and everywhere. Through ticketing means that even for complicated journeys you only need one ticket to ride. And it's getting better all the time - the 'Bahn 2000' project which, like all major decisions in Switzerland, was approved by referendum, wasn't just a railway revolution 9 years ago but is a massive ongoing project including the construction of new tunnels through the Alps, one of which, the Gotthard base tunnel, will be the longest tunnel in the world.
The French railways are justly proud of their TGV (high-speed train) network, but it's a different story on some of the secondary lines, which have irregular timetables - often different on different days of the week and during different periods of the year - and a lot of 'train' services are actually operated by buses!
Filippo, I've done the train journey from Munich to Verona quite a number of times (and on to Venice, or Florence, or Rome, or Naples .....) The long-distance trains follow the Inn valley via Kufstein to Innsbruck, but even better is the slower route over the Karwendelbahn, through spectacular Alpine scenery, with the railway clinging to vertical mountainsides, and a precipitous final descent into Innsbruck. I agree that Italian regional trains leave quite a lot to be desired - in fact they quite remind me of Polish trains.
I wonder if you're a train fan, Leila? I've got lots of good memories of train travel in Finland, sometimes in winter through frozen white landscapes, and sometimes in summer through green forests and along the shores of blue lakes - including the journey up to Rovaniemi, which is where Taru wrote from, and on to Kemijärvi, which is the end of the line, so from there on I had to rely on buses to take me further north.
To change the subject, I seem to be reading a lot recently about the state of the Polish language. A lot of people are expressing concern about the increasing tendency for English words to be used in Polish. In recent times, large numbers of Poles went to work in the UK and the Irish Republic, and many of them are now returning to Poland and bringing with them the habit of using English terminology related to business, technology and trades such as building. English and Polish are pretty different in terms of pronunciation, word formation and ways of expressing grammatical relationships, and so it isn't always easy to stir English words into Polish just like stirring an extra ingredient into a soup, but that doesn't seem to deter people from doing it. There's also evidence that English is influencing Polish grammar. One commentator wrote that in another fifty years the grammar will break down and Polish will die out, like Latin.
Well, for one thing, of course, Latin didn't 'die out'. It developed into a number of languages which are still very much alive, and spoken by large numbers of people. And for another, grammar doesn't 'break down', though it can certainly change. A thousand years ago, English was very similar to Polish in using inflections to express such grammatical features as gender, number and case, but now most of those inflections have gone; the ending -s is the most spectacular survivor, used to express plurality, possession and 3rd person singular in the present simple. So the nature of English grammar has changed radically, but some grammars of modern English nevertheless run to over a thousand pages, so there's obviously still quite a lot to say about it - which there wouldn't be, probably, if it had 'broken down'. Is it possible, though, that Polish could change in the same way? Well, yes, it's certainly possible, but the influence of English, at the moment, isn't enough to push it into such a change.
As regards vocabulary, it's also interesting to look at the history of English. Very little of the vocabulary of the Old English spoken a thousand years ago has survived, although the surviving words include the most common ones. At least 80% of modern English words are from other sources, starting with the huge influx of Norman French vocabulary after the Norman Conquest in 1066. So English provides a good example of how almost the whole vocabulary of a language can be replaced as a result of particular historical processes. I dare say the original versions of Norman French words such as air, colour, flower, journey, part or story must have seemed just as alien to English speakers in the 11th and 12th centuries as benefit, of (day off), holidej or siti (city) do to many Polish speakers today.
If you say that something is a different story, you mean that it's completely different from something that's already been mentioned.
If you say that something leaves a lot to be desired, you're criticising its quality, saying it isn't very good.
To deter someone from doing something is to make someone decide not to do something.
For one thing ..... and for another (thing) ..... is way of introducing two points, or arguments, or reasons.
..... and a little quiz for big vocabulary fans. Can you find words or expressions in today's blog with these meanings:
a system where you only need one ticket for a journey involving different types of transport and/or different transport companies
stop working, collapse, become useless
say/write that you're worried about something
a vote by the population of a country to make a decision on one specific issue
a growing trend
holding on very tightly
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